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Firefox Add-ons I Find Useful for Education

August 17, 2010

Take this for what it’s worth, but here are some Firefox Add-ons that I have found really useful as a teacher and Firefox user.

For those of you not familiar with Firefox, it’s an Internet browser.  In my experience it has crashed less, and techy people that I know say that it’s more secure than other browsers.  Please understand that I am not casting aspersions against Microsoft or Internet Explorer 8.  I use Firefox because I like it, and because you can customize it with different tools, called Add-ons, which do some pretty neat things.

If you have any contributions to make to this list that you use in your practice to teaching, in your classroom or with your students please let me know.

  1. Xmarks — this started out as an Add-on called Foxmarks but has since become a stand alone feature that works with all major browsers.  Xmarks is an online repository for all of your bookmarks.  You can categorize them into different profiles (I have three:  Personal PC, Tablet PC, and Netbook) and then sync them to your machine.  It’s unlike social bookmarking sites such as de.lici.ous because Xmarks isn’t meant to be shared.  It’s meant to be a repository of all your bookmarks that you can sync to any machine that you are using.  This is really awesome for when you get a new computer, or if you have to re-format your computer, or if you are working on a computer that you’re not normally using.  Basically, you never have to worry about losing your bookmarks again.  I find this useful because at least once a year my Tablet PC gets re-imaged and I use three different computers in my daily life (my own desktop PC and the school-owned machines).  When I find useful things for class or for my own professional growth it doesn’t matter what computer I am on, I just make sure I am logged on to Xmarks and bingo — I have the link and can easily make it a part of one or all of my profiles.  And I know my students with the 1:1 will find this useful, too.  They’re doing the same thing in their world.  There’s a lot more information on the Xmarks site if you’re interested.  You can get it through the Add-ons page or by visiting their website.
  2. Fireshot — Fireshot is an Add-on which takes a snapshot of everything that is on your computer screen and makes it an image file.  You can then do anything with that image file that you can with any other image file.  I find this very useful for demonstration purposes as well as when I create written directions for using computer programs or Web 2.0 tools.  You can find this on the Add-ons page.
  3. Diigo Toolbar — The Diigo Toolbar allows full functionality of the Diigo site.  To see what Diigo does and how the Toolbar works, visit Diigo and go to the Tools menu.  It’s also available through the Add-ons page
  4. Smart Bookmarks Bar — This application takes bookmarks that you move (or save) into your Bookmarks Toolbar folder which displays them as icons with text below the Navigation Toolbar.  Smart Bookmarks removes the text entirely and displays the bookmarks as icons.  I like this because my most useful and visited sites appear as small icons on my browser and I don’t have to hunt through the Bookmarks drop down menu to find what I want.  You can get this through the Add-ons page.
  5. Firefox Personas — I find this more useful for students than anything.  Our district does allow them some customization of their 1:1 machine (we run anti-exe programs and a lot of settings are locked up).  But, I do show them Firefox Personas.  Basically they’re themes that they can use to customize the look of their browser.  There are 30,000+ personas ranging from art,  sports teams, colleges and universities, TV shows, etc.  Students can also create their own personas and upload them to Firefox.  A neat suggestion to creative or ambitious kids would be to make one for your school.  I go through this for the purpose of making the kids feel they have ownership of their electronic environment and to make them feel more comfortable with their machine.  It’s more of a human/personality thing than educational, but if it gives them buy-in to 1:1 or establishes a better comfort level with the class or me as an instructor I think it’s worth it.   You can find these at Firefox Personas.

These are the most useful for me and I hope you feel the same way, too.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynn permalink
    August 17, 2010 7:16 pm

    HI Keith! Thanks for the nice listing of Firefox add ons…I’ll explore xmarks for sure and the Diigo stuff is interesting. Thinking about using the Diigo site this year in seminar with my Freshmen. Can you remind me how to access the one to one Diigo doc that the pilot team put together this summer?

  2. Keith Dennison permalink*
    August 17, 2010 7:32 pm

    Hi, Lynn.

    Our Google Doc is here: http://bit.ly/bUgeKb (I used http://www.bit.ly to shorten it!)

    You can also get it by going to docs.google.com and logging in. If you looked at it at any one time it’ll be there for you. Some people from outside of HC have added some fantastic stuff for us, too.

    See you around!
    Keith

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